If you have been injured in an accident and want to file a personal injury claim to recover medical costs and receive compensation, you will need to begin building your case. Your actions immediately following an accident, and in the process of gathering evidence, can either strengthen or weaken your case. Make sure you are only taking steps to improve your legal standing by avoiding these 5 common mistakes people make when filing a personal injury claim.
Failing to Seek Medical Attention
Any good attorney from a personal injury firm will tell you that you need to seek medical attention at the first sign of injury. This will likely be at the earliest opportunity following your accident.
Do not try to put a brave face on and wait it out. If you don’t see a doctor immediately or refuse medical assistance at the scene of a crime, the defendant’s lawyers could point to this at a later date as evidence that your pain is exaggerated or fabricated. The longer you leave it before you see a doctor, the harder it becomes to convincingly demonstrate that your injuries were the direct result of your accident.
Assuming you Can Handle Your Own Case
Personal injury accident laws are a constantly evolving web of complex rules. Even for personal injury attorneys, staying abreast of the latest laws is a full-time exercise. Even someone familiar with the law could be derailed by new interpretations of old statutes.
When you are going up against insurance companies, who are all well-versed in the law and its application and interpretation, it is best to get professional legal help. Choose a personal injury firm that specialises in personal injury claims to give yourself the best chance of success.
Accepting the Initial Offer
The first settlement offer the insurance company makes is often significantly less than the case is worth. It is the company’s way of trying to buy you off at the lowest possible price. Have your attorney look over any offer before you accept.
Assuming the Insurance Company Will Believe Your Version of Events Without Evidence
Documentation is key to build a strong personal injury case. Keep all medical records that outline your injury in full, police records, records of conversations with representatives with the insurance company, and pill bottles, casts and bandages you were given to treat your injuries.
It is also good practice to take photos of everything surrounding the accident. If you can show pictures of a totalled car, a broken step, a laceration, wound, or scar, it will help your case. Document everything with photos or a written diary that can be produced in court if necessary.
Undervaluing or Overvaluing the Claim
Everyone seems to have an idea of what their injuries are worth, but few estimates are ever accurate. However, without an experienced lawyer, undervaluing or overvaluing a claim can have a vast impact on your case.
If you undervalue the claim, you may end up accepting an offer far less than the insurance company should pay out. If you drastically overvalue the claim, you expose your ignorance of the matter to the insurance companies and will signal to them that they may be able to offer you less than the claim’s worth because of your inexperience and lack of understanding of the case.
This reiterates the importance of contacting an experienced and skilful lawyer to represent you in your personal injury claim. Your lawyer will be able to raise or lower your expectations accordingly and put you in line with the actual value of your claim.